This study examines how the mass media’s portrayal of the military, including the war in Iraq, affects U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps recruiting.
A telephone survey of households in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas was conducted to measure parents and young adults’ exposure to information about the military in various media sources and how much attention they paid to those sources of information for information about the military.
This study was hampered by a small sample size (N=119) that limits the ability to claim significant findings for several hypotheses. However, the study did uncover a pattern that indicated that greater use of newspapers and entertainment television reduced chances of young adults joining the military, whereas use of movies depicting the military enhanced the likelihood of joining. Media use predicted people’s attitudes about the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq. The pattern was the same..
Taken together, these results suggest that news may undercut, and movies may bolster, recruitment efforts for both the Marines and Army. Recruiting has always been a challenge for the armed services and will continue to be a challenge the military will face. With today’s evolving technologies and wealth of media, it is important to understand where adolescents and parents gather their information and how and if this impacts the way in which they form their attitudes and opinions about the military.
Although our research was not entirely significant due to our sample size, future research that is more powerful in that aspect could provide the U.S. military with the pertinent evidence needed to address this ongoing issue.